With half a day left in qualifying, five candidates, including four Republicans and one independent, have signed up for the June 9 special election to fill the District 4 Georgia Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Jack Hill.
The qualifying opportunity, which was open 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, was set to continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday before ending at 1 p.m. Prospective candidates must go to the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, West Tower Suite 802, Atlanta, to pay the $400 fee and complete the required paperwork.
The first three candidates to do so Monday were Dr. Scott Bohlke, the physician who owns and leads Bohler Family Practice in Brooklet; Billy Hickman, a certified public accountant and partner in the Statesboro firm Dabbs, Hickman, Hill, and Cannon; and Swainsboro attorney Kathy Palmer. Until Monday, when she stepped up her planned retirement by several months and resigned to seek the Senate seat, Palmer was chief Superior Court judge in the Middle Judicial Circuit.
Two more candidates joined the field Tuesday. Neil Singleton, a Gulf War era Army veteran who lives near Collins in Tattnall County, had earlier announced his intention to run for the state Senate seat. Stephen Jared Sammons, who hails from Adrian in Emanuel County, is on track to graduate from law school this year and previously worked in industry.
The Statesboro Herald will publish profiles of each candidate after qualifying ends.
Singleton, like Bohlke, Hickman and Palmer, is running as a Republican. But Sammons is running as an independent, meaning without party affiliation. In the special election, which will be for the remainder of Hill’s unexpired term, to January 2021, candidates can designate a party but will all appear on the same ballot.
That way, a winner will emerge from either the June 9 special election, which coincides with the rescheduled regular statewide primaries, or an Aug. 11 runoff.
However, the District 4 Senate seat will appear again on Nov. 3 general election ballots for a regular two-year term, a Georgia Secretary of State’s Office staff member said Monday.
Who can qualify
To qualify for Georgia Senate seats, candidates must be at least 25 years old, citizens of the state of Georgia for at least two years, residents of their district for at least one year immediately preceding election and citizens of the United States, according to the “Facts about the Georgia Senate” page on the Senate website.
District 4 encompasses Bulloch, Candler, Evans and Effingham counties and parts of Emanuel and Tattnall counties.
Hill, from Reidsville in Tattnall County, represented the district in the state Senate for almost 30 years before his sudden passing April 6 at age 75. Then the Georgia Senate’s longest serving member, he had been unopposed for re-election this year.